A crowd of Faulkner County officials and residents gathered Friday morning to honor the Dessex family via a bridge dedication ceremony.
Just off the intersection of Amity Road and Mayor Lane rests the Caney Creek Access. In the past, motorists have been blocked from crossing over the bridge that crosses the creek during heavy rains due to flooding in the area. Faulkner County Judge Jim Baker said he does not believe this will be a problem anymore, now that the county road department has worked to raise the road and a new bridge has been installed.
Baker said he knew in his heart he needed to honor the Dussex family and dedicate this new bridge to the family. During a ribbon-cutting ceremony held Friday morning, Baker shared with other Faulkner County officials and residents the history and roots the Dessex family holds in our area.
"I felt it proper that the family that's part of the foundation of Faulkner County should be used to dedicate this bridge and that's how this came about," Baker said. "Sometimes, you can keep politics out of things and to the right thing. So, we're dedicating this to the Tony Dussex family."
The Dessex family
Antoine Dussex came to the United States on Jan. 9, 1893, landing in New York. Marie Agnes Rudoz, who he later married, arrived in New York on Feb. 19, 1894, and the two were wed Feb. 26, 1895. The couple had nine children, all of who are now dead. However, the family still holds rich history in Faulkner County and Conway.
"The Dussex family is part of the foundation of Conway and Faulkner County that we all hold dear," Judge Baker said Friday.
Ray Luyett, one of Antoine's grandchildren, still lives in this area.
Luyett is the son of Tony Dussex, who was born in January 1900 and died in 1974.
The family purchased the farmland the current bridge runs across in 1906 from the St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern Railway Company.
"Mr. Tony sold this land to Major Lewis in 1968, then it went to Tommy Lewis and today, Bill Lewis who is a great nephew of of Major Lewis and his wife, Becky, are the owners," Baker said to Friday's crowd.
Bridge provides better access
The new 124-foot long bridge is 28-feet wide and replaces the previous bridge that was 80-feet long and 20-feet wide.
The project, constructed by Thomco, Inc., was completed in a record of 75 working days.
Thomco President Pat Mehaffy said his company was glad to come to Faulkner County to construct the new bridge on Amity Road over the Caney Creek Access, noting it was the third project his company has completed for the county thus far.
The project was completed under budget. Thomco initially accepted a bid for $476,000. However, upon completing the project, accepted $441,728.
Justice of the Peace Johnny Brady, County Road Foreman Mark Ledbetter and Mehaffy each spoke about the benefits this bridge will provide local motorists during Friday's ceremony.
With funding from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the newly raised street will also be paved "in the middle of July," Ledbetter said.
Reading off a letter written by Congressman French Hill regarding the bridge dedication and construction, Baker said this improvement will allow the county and it's residents to continue to thrive.
"Faulkner County and its residents are a prime example of small, yet strong communities that stood together during national disasters and have established an identity of their own," Baker said on Hill's behalf.
Baker also said this project helps to remind the community how well the county works with the city governments and officials within it.
"This is truly a partnership between the City of Conway, Faulkner County and the Game and Fish [Commission]," Baker said. "We hope this road doesn't flood and cut folds off in the future. We raised it enough that we believe it will not have to be closed [when it floods in the area]. There will be thousands of people that will benefit from changes to the landscape for this."
Friday's dedication began with an opening prayer by St. Joseph Catholic Church Deacon Jerry Joe Harrison and ended with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting celebration and the unveiling of the Dussex dedication plaque.
Luyett, of the Dussex family, cut the ribbon during Friday's celebration.